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May 20, 2022 4:02 pm

Antisemitism Investigation at UK Student Union Advances as Questions Swirl About Latest Election

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Palace of Westminster in London, c. 2015. Photo: Carlos Cunha/Wikimedia Commons.

The lawyer who will lead an investigation into accusations of antisemitism made against the UK’s National Union of Students (NUS) has been chosen, The Times of London reported on Thursday.

The London-based paper said that Queens Counsel Rebecca Tuck, an expert in employment and discrimination law, was chosen by NUS in consultation with the Union of Jewish Students (UJS). The UK government’s decided last week to suspend its recognition and public funding of the NUS, which counts 600 student unions as affiliates, over allegations stretching back several years.

On Thursday, NUS said Tuck’s investigation — set to begin Monday, according to The Tab online outlet — will “look holistically at the experience of Jewish students within NUS.”

“The investigation will look at recent allegations as well as historic matters and broader culture,” it continued. “We are rightly opening our doors to scrutiny and are prepared to be accountable, to listen, and to take any and all restorative actions that are needed.”

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NUS, whose affiliate unions represent over seven million university students in the UK, also denounced antisemitism, saying it has “no place … within NUS because Jewish students have the right to feel safe and welcome in every corner of our movement.”

UJS said it was “pleased to see NUS treating the early stages of these investigations with due sensitivity and diligence.”

“Our members from all political affiliations and religious denominations have raised their voices,” the Jewish student group said. “NUS are listening and engaging with UJS and Jewish students and we hope this will continue throughout the investigations.”

Separately, the Jewish Chronicle reported on government ministers’ concerns about the recent election of Shaima Dallali as NUS president over her stance on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism. A commitment to fighting antisemitism per the working definition is a condition of seeking office in NUS.

JC said Dallali has supported a referendum to reject the adoption of the IHRA standard at City University, and once liked a tweet that said, “Israel is a racist endeavor … not rejecting IHRA means rejecting my lived experience.”

“I am committed to creating an NUS that is open to all students … a community that is free from and stands against all forms of discrimination and injustice” Dallali wrote to JC.

Harshly sanctioning the National Union of Students was “a decision that the [Department for Education] did not take lightly,” MP Michele Donelan said last Friday in a statement announcing NUS’ disaffiliation with the government.

“Whilst our door is not closed to the NUS, our message could not be simpler,” she continued. “We need decisive and effective action in response to the repeated allegations of antisemitic behavior.”

Donelan suggested that the government’s engagement with the union may resume “when sufficient action has been taken.”

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